Depression is Real

Depression can wreak havoc on the lives of those it inflicts its awful pain upon.  Depression is more than a feeling of despair that lasts for a day or so.  It is greater than disappointment when things do not go as planned.  It is an ongoing feeling of brokenness and hopelessness that can interrupt the well-being of a person’s life.  I will discuss some general information about depression and how it is not as uncommon or simple as we may think.  You may discover that at one point or another in your life you may have been clinically or functionally depressed and not know it.

Depression Is Not Always Observable

When we think about Depression, we usually think of someone who is dragging through life day to day, hopeless and suicidal even.  Sometimes this is the picture of depression and other times it is not.  There are always signs of depression but we have socially conditioned our minds to think of only the down signs of depression.  Depression can also show manic signs where a person is upbeat and able to smile through their depression.  Still, with those people, they will show some classic signs of depression that can be observed.  As you read this article, use the information as an opportunity to educate yourself about some of the common surface knowledge about depression.

Some causes of depression can be physiological only and have nothing to do with neurological issues or experiences of life trauma. “The etiology varies from medication side effects to substance abuse or dependence, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic disorders, neurologic disorders such as the neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory disorders, carcinomas, toxins, and pregnancy.” (Schulz & Arora, 2015)  Depression is a deep issue and has to always be diagnosed by a medical professional.  Do not ever attempt to diagnose yourself as depressed based on signs without consulting with your physician who can help you consider the medical reasons for depressed feelings.  If none are found, they should properly refer you to a Clinical Psychologist who can help determine if you are depressed.

Types of Depression

 

Major Depressive Disorder (Unipolar Depression)

This is the most common depression that is known. “Unipolar depression is what most people mean when they talk about depression: an unremitting state of sadness, apathy, or hopelessness, and loss of energy.” (Pyschology Today, 2017)  Those who are experiencing Unipolar Depression will likely have these more observable signs of depression.  In addition, a medical professional will have a patient undergo an MRI in order to measure and compare the brain activity in certain areas of the brain.  If there are abnormalities found, this could be an indication of depression.  Depression can also be caused by hereditary factors as well whereas some people have a predisposition to mental disorders related to and concerning depression. (Pyschology Today, 2017)  “Early childhood trauma, adverse or negative life events, personality traits, and other risk factors also contribute to the development of Major Depressive Disorder.” (Schulz & Arora, 2015)

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), or Dysthymia, is when a person develops depression symptoms and those symptoms persist over a prolonged period of time, likely years.  Dysthymia shares the same symptoms as Clinical Depression but the symptoms are not as severe.  However, Dysthymia differs because a person suffering from this type of depression can function a little better in their day to day activities because the depression is considered “low level”.  This is not to be confused with functional depression. “It is usually marked by years-long periods of low energy, low self-esteem, and little ability to experience pleasure.” (Pyschology Today, 2017)  Unlike Clinical Depression, which is determined by one depressive episode that lasts and then goes into remission, with PDD, these feelings are considered to persist for a very long period of time, often years without interruption.  Sometimes those with PDD will experience at least one episode of Major Depression.

Bipolar Depression

Bipolar Depression, also known as Manic Bipolar Depression, is marked by two extremes in emotional and mood behavior.  A person dealing with Bipolar Depression will have Manic episodes where they will go through a period of intense energy, drive, and esteem.  They may likely display compulsive behaviors in these manic episodes which could endanger their well-being or the well-being of those around them.  Bipolar Depression also has periods of extreme episodes of Major Depression where someone shows the classic symptoms and signs of Major Depression.  “[Those suffering from Bipolar Depression will] swing between the two poles of mood states, sometimes over the course of days, sometimes over years, often with stable periods in between.” (Pyschology Today, 2017)

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can occur after a mother has a baby.  As her hormones struggle to regulate themselves back to normal, an environment can be created metabolically that could lead to depression.  “The birth of a baby can trigger mood swings or crying spells in the following days or weeks after childbirth.” (Pyschology Today, 2017)  These are normal feelings but if they persist for an even longer period of time such as months, it could be an indication of Postpartum Depression.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is when a person experiences depression due to a lack of sunlight exposure due to the shorter days of the winter season.  They will experience the usual symptoms of depression and must maintain a lifestyle that will help counter those symptoms.

Functional Depression

Functional Depression is a low-level depression that persists for a prolonged period of time like PDD.  However, Functional Depression differs because a person suffering with this type of depression still functions relatively normal in their day to day activities.  They are still able to go to work and take care of their responsibilities. “Like major depression, high-functioning depression can cause changes in appetite, poor sleep, and emotional difficulties.” (Holmes, 2016)  Those who fit this category are generally not happy internally, but they are able to still function throughout their lives often times being able to mask how they are feeling very well.  These feelings are considered to persist for a very long period of time, often years.

Some People with Depression Suffer in Silence

Depression can be viewed as a negative thing and therefore many people try to deal with their depression alone without the help of others or health facilities.  Because there are so many types of depression, some that were not even mentioned in this article, it is hard for a person to determine when they should really take their feelings seriously.  Let’s face a hard truth; life is hard, period.  Naturally, we will have our days where we feel defeated and beat up and sometimes events occur that will cause us to feel down for more than a day at a time.  Let’s be sure to know what’s depression and what is just a person having a bad day or a bad week.

Depression is marked by prolonged feelings of mood shifts and low feelings.  Depression is not always signaled by feelings of despair.  Some depressed people suffer in silence but will function day to day in society.  They have managed to master the ability to fool their counterparts by displaying jolly behavior.  Some people just simply know how to mirror the energy that is around them so if they are depressed but the person around them isn’t, they can temporarily borrow from that environment and present themselves as otherwise, engaging, full of energy, and happy.

When you encounter a person that you suspect may be depressed, be educated on the subject first so that you can know how to have a conversation with them.  The worst thing you can do is engage them with a preconceived notion that has been shaped by stereotypes.  If they are truly depressed, a misinformed approached can cause them to retreat and you will not be able to get within their emotions to help them.  You must also understand that some people are depressed due to other factors such as medication or hormonal levels like low Testosterone.  The best thing you can do for a person you suspect may be depressed is to show them that you are there for them and try to encourage them to seek medical attention.

Getting help with Depression

If you are a person that is dealing with depression, let this article help you to understand just how complex depression can be. Depression can ultimately lead to suicide.  One should not drag their feet on identifying causes to their depression.  There are ways to deal with depression through medicine and holistically by treating the whole of a person to help reduce triggers for depression and depressive states.  These regimens can include diet and exercise changes as well as religion and meditative explorations.  See the table below for some ideas for helping with depression.

Figure 1.1

(Sarris, O’Neil, Coulson, Schweitzer, & Berk, 2014)

If you are dealing with depression or any other issues and you are in need of a therapist, click here to find a licensed therapist in your area.

*This article is intended for informational purposes only.  The content of this article is not designed to treat or diagnose any type of mental disorder or medical crisis.  Always seek a medical professional concerning any health related issues.  This article contains works cited from peer-reviewed journals and other websites articles on depression.

  1. Sarris, J., O’Neil, A., Coulson, C. E., Schweitzer, I., & Berk, M. (2014). Lifestyle Medicine for Depression. BMC Psychiatry.
  2. Schulz, P. E., & Arora, G. M. (2015). Depression. Continuum: Lifelong Learning in Neurology, 756-771.
  3. Holmes, L. (2016, October 3). Huffington Post. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/things-people-with-high-functioning-depression-want-you-to-know_us_57ed52d8e4b024a52d2d9160Pyschology Today. (2017, May 17).
  4. Pyschology Today. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from Pyschologytoday.com: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/depression/causes-depression

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